At the time, this trade appeared to have favored the Reds who were a playoff contending team in the National Central, while the White Sox were in the midst of building a playoff team and needed a first baseman to take over everyday duties.
Enter Konerko, who had bounced around the Los Angeles Dodgers and Reds farm systems and began his professional career as a catcher, then converted into a third baseman before settling on what would become his best position, first base.
Konerko, who hadn’t found consistent playing time in the majors until 1999, hit his 400th career home run, 393rd with the Sox, on Wednesday in Oakland against the Athletics. Konerko has been a mainstay with the Sox organization and his benchmark homerun may have helped his cause at becoming a hall of famer after he retires.
Yes, you read that correctly. I wrote that Konerko could possibly become a hall of famer after he retires. Konerko doesn’t have the gaudy stats like other hall of fame candidates of the past generation or steroid generation but he has more than 2,000 hits and will more than likely be very close to 500 home runs if he hasn’t passed that mark before he hangs up his cleats.
Over the past few seasons, Konerko has hit more than 28 home runs, driven in 88 runs or more and has maintained a batting average of no less than .277. In 2008 however, Konerko did experience a power outage as he hit .240 with just 22 home runs and 62 runs batted in, but he played the majority of that season injured, although the Sox did win the division.
Konerko has always put the team before his own personal goals, as 2008 wasn’t the only season he played through a tough injury. In 2003, the Sox were in the middle of a pennant race with the Minneosta Twins and Konerko played through the second half of the season with a toe injury which ultimately plagued him to finishing with his lowest batting average of his career at .234.
But looking past all his statistics, what really makes Konerko worthy of the hall of fame? I would say his ability to not only play more than 145 game per year with the same team for 14 seasons, but his professionalism and character.
Konerko hasn’t been in the news for something he’s said or done and none of his former teammates said anything bad about him. Konerko has always been the model of consistency on the southside and it should be noted that he’s hit 400 home runs cleanly without the usage of steroids in an era that saw many players cheat to advance.
There have been five seasons that Konerko has finished with more than 100 RBI’s, 30 home runs and a .300 batting average. If that can’t help his resume, I don’t know what will. Konerko is on pace to make this the sixth season he finishes with those stats. If he can continue on this pace, I don’t see how he could be left out of the hall of fame after he retires.
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